Historical flair meets future-oriented energy concept.

Historical flair meets future-oriented energy concept

Inauguration of new Wilhelminian style Passive House building in Hamburg

(Press Release, Passive House Institute, 25 August 2014)


Hamburg/Darmstadt, Germany. Traditional architectural style and the Passive House Standard work together beautifully – this is demonstrated by a fascinating new build project in Hamburg. The “Haus Winter”, designed in the traditional Wilhelminian style, blends seamlessly into the historical character of the district in which it is located. At the same time, this four-storey apartment block is future-oriented with regard to energy efficiency – made possible with the planning expertise of ZEBAU, a building certifier accredited by the international Passive House Institute. The building was inaugurated on Friday, 22 August with all project participants in attendance.

14997643415_2a793fdce3_zThe new Passive House stands in a residential street next to buildings dating back to the second half of the 19th century. The energy concept lends maximum efficiency through superior insulation and building technology. The structure employs renewable energy sources and regionally supplied, environmentally-friendly materials were used wherever feasible. The building’s underground garage has also been designed with electric-powered vehicles in mind. For increased comfort, building owner Dr. Georg Winter put great emphasis on barrier-free access and a good level of sound-proofing. Additionally, all apartments are fitted with balconies or terraces.

Aspiring to construct a new building combining the Passive House Standard and the Wilhelminian style, typical of many German cities, required close cooperation between all involved. Not only is the facade decorative, it is also exemplary in terms of energy efficiency. In order to avoid thermal bridges, the ornamental balconies were attached to the building using steel anchors. The historical-looking double-casement windows are triple-glazed and large south-facing windows provide the compact structure with high solar gains. Mineral and EPS insulation with an average thickness of 28 mm was covered with mineral plaster and an additional mineral top layer.

Achievement of the Passive House Standard means the “Haus Winter” is extremely comfortable while boasting extremely low energy costs. A balanced indoor climate with a high degree of comfort is provided by the thermally optimised building envelope and the ventilation system. An important aspect here is the permanent supply of pre-heated fresh air, which guarantees the absence of mould and odours while ensuring pleasant air temperatures year-round.

14974663596_c44e3d5944_zOver a third of the total energy consumed in industrialised countries results from the operation of buildings, and most of this goes towards heating. This consumption can be reduced by up to 90 percent using Passive House technology. The remaining demand can be easily met with renewable energies. The certification of a Passive House offers a high degree of planning reliability. The longstanding experience of certifying bodies that have been accredited by the Passive House Institute proves advantageous for the success of the entire project. The certificate itself is proof of the particularly efficient standard of the building.

Press Release as pdf: www.bit.ly/1okCkPu

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Passive House technology and Net Zero strategies

Green ‘Net Zero’ Buildings Sound Great. What’s The Catch? segment by Chris Mossa, ran on WNYC Radio August, 13th.  In it Passive House technology was compared favorably to a mild critique of Net Zero strategies and featuring architect Paul Castrucci, a NYPH member.

Listen to the radio segment here:


“When P.S. 62 opens in Staten Island a year from now, it may be the city’s largest science experiment. It will be the first school in the five boroughs, and maybe even the first building of any kind, that can claim to be “net zero” — meaning it produces as much energy as it consumes

“Net zero is an interesting concept when you’re dealing with low buildings— any building that’s three or four stories — you can put solar on the roof,” said Russell Unger, executive director of the Urban Green Council. “It gets a little strange when you have a conversation in a city so known for its high rises.”

A handful of architects and developers in the city share Unger’s perspective. They are focusing more on reducing the energy consumption of their buildings and less on producing energy on site. Some have become adherents of a movement called Passive House — a German design concept that maximizes energy savings, largely through intense insulation. A number of buildings constructed according to these standards have gone up or are underway, including 951 Pacific Street in Brooklyn, a row house that’s expected to come on the market this fall. “

Listen to the broadcast and read the full article here



Parsons graduate architecture students performing case studies of NYC buildings looking for partners

David White of Right Environments, a NYPH member and Parsons faculty, is looking for architects, developers, or building owners to partner with Parsons graduate architecture students performing case studies of NYC buildings.  They will be studying energy use, thermal comfort, air quality, and related building science subjects.

The partner will meet with students to discuss the design approach and potential areas of study; provide drawings; and help coordinate permission for access to the case study building.  The students will execute the study and present it in class, with the partner invited to attend, and deliver a copy of the final report to the partner.

This is a great opportunity for students and practitioners to learn together about the real performance of buildings. If you are interested, please email white [at] newschool [dot] edu.



19th International Passive House Conference 2015 Leipzig

Call for Papers: The International Passive House Conference 2015

Forum for future-proof construction solutions on 17 and 18 April 2015 in Leipzig

(Press Release, Passive House Institute, 1 August 2014)


Experts on energy efficient building and retrofitting can now submit their abstracts for the 19th International Passive House Conference. The deadline runs until 1 October, after which the best projects and solutions will be chosen for presentation on 17 and 18 April 2015 in Leipzig, Germany. The conference will place a special focus on cost-effectiveness and developments in high performance Passive House building components. Detailed information and all necessary submission documents can be found here.

“Every improvement in energy efficient building products makes it that much easier to achieve an energy revolution,” comments Dr. Wolfgang Feist, Director of the Passive House Institute. Triple-paned windows have become standard and in most cases, already present the most economical option. Heat recovery ventilation can also considerably lower energy consumption. According to Feist, it is especially for such systems that more cost-effective solutions are needed.

In addition to high performance components, the conference in Leipzig will also focus on buildings themselves. Innovative construction projects that, for example, stand out due to special use profiles with specific energy requirements or due to challenging climatic conditions will be highlighted. The call for papers is addressed to all those involved with Passive House wishing to present their experiences to an international audience of professionals. A scientific committee will decide which submissions will be accepted by the beginning of November 2014.

Since over 20 years, Passive House stands for quality, comfort and sustainability. As the worldwide platform for energy efficient construction, the Passive House Conference offers high level plenary sessions, workshops for manufacturers and architects, a forum for tradespeople, an exhibition full of highly efficient products, and excursions to built Passive House projects. The conference and accompanying exhibition address architects and builders, product manufacturers, researchers, and other interested stakeholders.

The 19th International Passive House Conference is organised by the Passive House Institute and the University of Innsbruck, Department of Energy Efficient Buildings, in cooperation with the City of Leipzig and the Architectural Chamber of the German State of Saxony. The conference is embedded in the work programmes of two EU-funded projects, PassREg (Passive House regions with renewable energies) and EuroPHit (Step-by-step refurbishment with Passive House components).


Press Release as pdf: www.bit.ly/1liutBR

A selection of photos can be found on: www.flickr.com/photos/passive-house-institute


19th International Passive House Conference and Expo:

Conference: Friday and Saturday, 17 and 18 April 2015

Excursions: Sunday, 19 April 2015

Framework programme: beginning Wednesday 15 April 2015

Venue: Congress Center Leipzig CCL

Information on main themes, submissions and registration available at www.passivehouseconference.org



Passive House and the Public Domain

If there is a question as to what it means to be a Passive House, please see the blog post “What is Passive House?”  But if there is a question as to the history of Passive House, the public domain and trademarks in the US, let’s review:

The Passive House Institute (PHI), founded in the early 1990s, filed for the trademark “Passive House Institute” and its mark in 2007, and both were approved in 2009, see here and here.  PHI also filed for “PHPP”, the cornerstone instrument of Passive House, and it was approved in 2010, see here.

Curiously, in 2009 and early 2010, the Passive House Institute US (PHIUS), who was operating as a contracted service provider to PHI via its EcoLab entity, filed, without the knowledge of PHI, for seven Passive House related trademarks:

    • “Certified Passive House”, which was abandoned later in 2009, see here.
    • “Passive House Institute US”, which was abandoned in 2010, see here.
    • “PHIUS” mark, which was approved in 2010, see here.
    • “PH” mark, which was approved in 2011, see here.
    • “NACPHC”, which was approved in 2012, see here.
    • “PassivHaus Bau”, which was approved in 2011, see here.
    • “CPHC”, which was abandoned later in 2010, see here.


In 2011, for reasons unrelated to trademarks, PHI canceled its contracts with EcoLab/PHIUS. See here.

Then in January 2012 PHIUS again filed to trademark “CPHC” (see here, approved in August) and then six days later in January threatened to sue NY Passive House in regards to the use of the terms “Certified Passive House Consultant” and “CPHC”, see here.   NY Passive House responded that there were no grounds for PHIUS’ claims and that such a suit would be frivolous, see here.

In February 2012 PHIUS filed a lawsuit against ECO Smart Building, P.C., ECO Smart Building LLC. and George D Sullivan, a former board member of PHAUS.  (PHAUS is the association controlled by PHIUS.)  See here.

Then in March of 2012, PHI filed to trademark “Certified Passive House”.   It was published for opposition in Sept 2013 and PHIUS opposed it.  PHI decided to stop paying lawyers, and declined to respond to PHIUS’s opposition and abandoned pursuit of the trademark through a default judgment.  See here.

The End?  Or to be continued?  Only time will tell.



“High cholesterol building”, Urban Green Council July Report

At NYPH we like this July report from Urban Green Council, named “High cholesterol building”. A really great study that outline the current problems with today’s building envelopes, issues with how they are regulated, and the solutions we can pursue now.


“What’s a high cholesterol building? One that’s on a fad diet today but will have severe environmental problems in the future.

It turns out there’s a loophole in our energy code that allows designers to trade off energy-draining envelopes for better mechanical equipment. Decades from now, that equipment will be replaced several times over, while the envelope remains, inefficient as ever.

In fact, our report shows that you would have to go back over 1,000 years to find buildings that used as little insulation as today’s all-glass structures.

But with better glass, designed views, improved construction training, and greener codes, we can have buildings that are as healthy as they are beautiful.”


Read this passionate report here to find out more.




Leading Beyond LEED: NYC Buildings and the Evolving Fight to Consume Less Energy

Here is an article written by Tobias Salinger from the Commercial Observer on the Passive House Revolution in New York City:



“One of the country’s first hyper-efficient affordable multifamily passive houses was failing a basic evaluation early this month and nobody on architect Chris Benedict’s Architecture and Energy Limited team could figure out why. When the innovative foam-and-stucco structure at 803 Knickerbocker Avenue in Bushwick couldn’t hold up to the blower door test that’s a standard trial of airtightness, the architect sent her staff scrambling throughout the six-story, 24-unit building. She and the Ridgewood Bushwick Senior Citizens Council, the project’s developer, anticipate that the building will consume 90 percent less energy than conventional structures, save $23,000 per year in energy bills and beat air pressure assessments. As for the present day, the crew had found the problem: there was a window open on the sixth floor.”

Read the full article here.




Architects and Advocates Predict Passive Revolution

Hundreds of architects, builders and advocates called for residential and commercial buildings of all sizes to consume 75 percent less energy in order to live up to so-called “passive house” standards at a convention yesterday.

The New York Passive House conference and expo at in the Flatiron district attracted both a local and international crowd of those interested in perfecting and popularizing the strict German specifications that make use of controlled ventilation, air-tight installation and innovative façade design to reduce energy costs and usage by massive amounts.

“If architecture is about generosity, then we are probably just doing our job,” said Sabrine Leribaux, an architect with a Brussels-based company called Architectes Associes that operates in a city where all new and significant renovations must adhere to passive standards starting in 2015, in a speech during the daylong event. She added afterwards, “You just have to lift that security lock. Passive house is not European. I grew up in Texas.”

Leribaux and Günter Lang, of the Vienna-based Lang Consulting, presented stunning pictures of completed passive house projects ranging from private homes to large-scale multifamily and commercial developments and passive office skyscrapers to show the prevalence of an architectural movement which they say is becoming the norm in Europe and ought to become the norm here in the city.


Read more here.





Passive House: also a maximum energy efficiency solution for hospitals

Key results of baseline study now available online on Passipedia

(Press Release, Passive House Institute, 21 May 2014)

Darmstadt, Germany. Hospitals are among the most energy-intensive of building types. Here too, the Passive House Standard provides a solution that results in considerable savings. The time is ripe to take advantage of this finding. In Germany, for example, many of the some 2000 hospitals are currently in need of refurbishment – likely a familiar situation in numerous countries. In the Hoechst district of Frankfurt an older hospital building is currently being replaced by a new build with a focus on maximum energy efficiency. The result will be the world’s first Passive House hospital. Critical issues regarding the execution of this project were elaborated in a baseline study commissioned by the State of Hesse (in German). A compilation of the overall key results of this study is now available online on Passipedia.

The Passive House concept is based on the fundamental idea of significantly reducing the demand for all energy applications while improving comfort at the same time. In a highly complex building such as a hospital, heating is only one of the many energy flows that exert influence. Efficient devices, whether in the form of lighting or medical equipment, not only save energy directly but also reduce the cooling demand at the same time. A hospital’s use profile also places specific demands on the building systems, with hygiene and thus the well-being of patients and staff being the top priority. Passive House proves promising especially in this regard.

Insulation measures are particularly worthwhile in hospital buildings on account of their high temperature requirements and almost continuous operation. Moreover, many areas in conventional hospitals are already equipped with ventilation technology, meaning that equipping the building with large scale controlled heat recovery ventilation is only a minimal addition. The baseline study shows that the heating demand can be limited to 15 kWh per square metre of useful space annually despite the higher indoor temperatures and average air exchange rates. Even at such a high level of energy performance, lighting, ventilation, hot water supply, heating, and cooling constitute the most energy intensive applications. Depending on the technical equipment used in the hospital, autoclaves, magnetic resonance tomography, and data processing can also contribute much to the total energy demand.

As some of the processes in a hospital generate waste heat, it stands to reason that as much of this waste heat as possible should be made use of in other processes, for example, in the heating system by means of a heat pump. Nevertheless, as the results of the baseline study show, the priority should always be given to the optimisation of the processes generating this waste heat. All told, the conditions for large-scale energy efficiency measures in hospitals are favourable; with the available technology, the energy demand can be reduced significantly in most areas. In view of the complexity of the energy flows though, consultation and involvement of all stakeholders at an early stage is essential.

In Frankfurt-Hoechst, a highly energy efficient new building will replace the old municipal hospital building. This new build will be executed to the Passive House Standard, in accordance with the Passive House resolution adopted by the City of Frankfurt. The baseline study, commissioned by the German State of Hesse and carried out by the Passive House Institute, draws, in many parts, on the preliminary planning for the new Frankfurt-Hoechst clinic.

Press Release as pdf: www.bit.ly/RTDuJ7


Introductory articles (in English) on the topic of Passive House hospitals can now be found online in the knowledge database, Passipedia:www.bit.ly/1gGKtAN


The full version of the baseline study, “Implementation of the Passive House concept in hospitals”, is available for download on the Passive House Institute website: www.bit.ly/ROSxnx (in German)




International Conference in Aachen shows solutions for maximum energy efficiency

Press Release, Passive House Institute, 30 April 2014:


“Once completed, a building often goes untouched over the course of decades; the energy standard to which it is designed or retrofitted is therefore crucial. At the 2014 International Passive House Conference in Aachen, Germany, which took place April 25-26, experts from all over the world showed how current construction practices can be made fit for the future. Recent progress on highly energy efficient building components has been ground breaking; several examples were presented at the accompanying exhibition.

“Energy efficient construction and refurbishment is getting less expensive each year and is thus becoming even more attractive for building owners,” explains Dr. Wolfgang Feist, Director of the Passive House Institute. The Component Award for windows, awarded at the conference in Aachen, demonstrates that considerable savings can be achieved with Passive House technology. “Investing in the energy efficiency of your own building is first and foremost a question of economic sense,” says Feist. “Improved comfort is an added benefit, as is the significant contribution to the fight against climate change.”

The fact that architecture itself also benefits from the Passive House concept was documented in Aachen with the bestowal of another prize. At the opening of the conference, six buildings and one region were recognised with the 2014 Passive House Award: an apartment block in Berlin (Germany), a New York retrofit (USA), a seminar building in Goesan (South Korea), an art museum in Ravensburg (Germany), a building complex in Espoo (Finland), a terraced house in Philadelphia (USA), and an entire Passive House district in Heidelberg (Germany). The Award was granted as part of the EU funded project PassREg (Passive House Regions with Renewable Energies) and further supported by the German Federal Ministry of Economic Affairs and Energy.

During the two day conference, almost one hundred expert lectures were held covering a wide range of topics, from the challenges presented by the construction of Passive House buildings in different climate zones to experience gained with Passive House supermarkets and indoor swimming halls. A special session, held within the framework of the EuroPHit project, focused on step by step retrofits of existing buildings, carried out over the course of years. Particular emphasis was given to developments that will substantially influence the building sector, such as the European Buildings Directive. The directive, stipulating that all buildings be designed as “Nearly Zero Energy Buildings” as of 2021, can be easily satisfied through a combination of Passive House and the use of renewable energies.

The Passive House Institute is preparing for this development with the introduction of new certification categories. In the future, not only the energy demand, but also energy generation on or near the building, for example, by means of photovoltaic systems, will be taken into consideration. In his concluding address, Dr. Feist unveiled a new method for the overall evaluation of building energy demand; a future-proof scenario in which the exclusive use of renewable energies connected via the power grid reigns serves as the reference.

The launch of designPH, the new 3D planning tool, met with great excitement, especially by the designers and architects amongst the some 1,000 conference visitors. The software, based on SketchUp, allows for the 3D input of energy-relevant design data – the building envelope and shading data is detected automatically and can be optimised as required. The result can then be exported into the globally established Passive House planning tool, the PHPP, with just a few clicks.

The International Passive House Conference, organised by the Passive House Institute, has been taking place at changing venues since 1997. This year’s conference was organised in cooperation with the City of Aachen and the EnergyAgency.NRW. A lively exhibition featuring manufacturers of energy efficient building components and other important industry stakeholders took place in parallel to the expert lectures. Further workshops and seminars were offered within the conference framework programme, which was rounded off with excursions to built Passive Houses in the region. The next International Passive House Conference will take place from 17 – 18 April 2015 in Leipzig (Germany).

Over a third of the total energy consumed in industrialised countries results from the operation of buildings, and most of this goes towards heating. This consumption can be reduced by up to 90 percent using Passive House technology. The remaining demand can be easily met with renewable energies. This standard is not only economically attractive, it also constitutes an important contribution to the energy revolution and climate protection.


Photos of the winners of the Passive House Award and the Component Award can be downloaded on:




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